Download Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage by Henry Bial PDF

By Henry Bial

The historical past of the yankee leisure and the heritage of the Jewish humans within the usa are inextricably intertwined. Jews have supplied Broadway and Hollywood with a few of their so much enduring expertise, from writers like Arthur Miller, Wendy Wasserstein, and Tony Kushner; to administrators like Jerome Robbins and Woody Allen; to performers like Gertrude Berg, John Garfield, Lenny Bruce, and Barbra Streisand. Conversely, exhibit enterprise has supplied Jews with a method of upward mobility, a version for the way to "become American," and a resource of cultural pride.Acting Jewish records this historical past, the paintings of Jewish writers, administrators, and actors within the American leisure with specific cognizance to the ways that those artists provide behavioral types for Jewish-American audiences. The booklet spans the interval from 1947 to the current and takes a detailed examine a few of America's favourite performs (Death of a salesperson, Fiddler at the Roof, Angels in America), motion pictures (Gentleman's contract, Annie Hall), and tv indicates (The Goldbergs, Seinfeld), picking a double-coding during which performers enact, and spectators learn, Jewishness in modern performance-and, via extension, enact and browse different minority identities. The booklet therefore explores and illuminates the ever-changing dating among Jews and mainstream American culture."Fascinating and unique . . . Bial's command of assets is outstanding, and his proposal of 'double-coding' is convincing . . . the publication shouldn't have any difficulty discovering a wide audience."-Barbara Grossman, writer of humorous lady: The existence and instances of Fanny BriceHenry Bial is Assistant Professor of Theatre and picture, collage of Kansas. he's editor of the functionality experiences Reader and co-editor of the Brecht Sourcebook.

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Additional info for Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen

Sample text

Therefore, if a reader is Jewish by descent or consent, or if he or she has had extensive exposure to Jewish culture (for example, hav­ ing grown up in a Jewish neighborhood), then they will be much more likely to have the requisite cultural literacy to recognize what is Jewish and what is goyish. In this sense, Bruce's routine itself provides the real litmus test for his standard of Jewishness: if you get it, if you nod, if you understand without being told why Count Basie is Jewish and Eddie Cantor is goy­ ish, then you are Jewish.

Double coding is not simply a means of com­ municating Jewish continuity through performance. Double coding is itself a means of acting Jewish. Knowing the codes, reading Jewish, can be a way to affirm one's membership in an imagined community of American Jews. While Bruce's performance plays with the idea of Jewish decoding, the analytical use of double coding as a model for understanding acting Jewish requires an awareness that the Jewish-goyish, or Jewish-gentile, binary is both constructed and unstable.

In fact, most of what is specifically Jewish about The Goldbergs is encoded in performance practice: accents, rhythms of speech, and emotional affect. Yet the presence of these cultural codes allows a Jewish audience to infer the religious and cultural practices that the program itself rarely depicts. In Death of a Salesman, virtually everything that an audience might recognize as Jewish is implicit. Miller's protagonist, Willy Loman, is in fact distinguished by his lack of a clearly defined identity, exacerbated by his desire to fit into modern American culture.

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